Two of our hospital gardens could be transformed into outdoor oases for patients – if the public get behind the idea.
Keep Wales Tidy is calling for their votes to secure £50,000 of National Lottery funding as part of this year’s People’s Projects.
If successful, the money would be spent on transforming unloved areas at three hospitals – Morriston and Gorseinon in Swansea and Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda in neighbouring Cwm Taf.
The aim is to create quiet havens that will benefit the health and wellbeing not just of patients but visitors and hardworking staff.
But Keep Wales Tidy is only one of five groups in Wales in the running for the funding and the decision on who will get it rests on a public vote.
Voting starts today, Monday 1st April, and closes on Monday 15th April and we’re asking people to get behind the Healthy Hospital Gardens project by going to www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk to vote for it.
Swansea Bay University Health Board Chairman Andrew Davies, who also chairs the board’s environment committee, said: “It is well known that having an attractive environment can improve people’s quality of life.
“It has a positive impact on the wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff, and encourages recovery after illness.
“As a health board we are fully committed to providing the best possible environment, and it would make a real difference if the public gave their support to the gardens project.”
The Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery cares for patients from South and Mid Wales, as well as severely injured adult patients from a wider area extending into the South West of England.
Burns centre senior matron Clare Baker said patients nursed there could be unconscious, immobile and restricted to the ward for days, weeks or even months.
The Healthy Gardens Project would transform the courtyard within the centre which is not currently suitable for use.
Clare said: “It would mean patients, staff and visitors could access the courtyard, with some patients being taken outside in beds, chairs and walked out as part of their rehabilitation.
“For patients to be able to see, smell and hear the sounds of being outside is very important to them and their rehabilitation.
“Family and friends would also be able to use this courtyard not only with their family member but also when visiting.
“They often have to stay in hospital accommodation due to the large geographic catchment area of which they might live in.
“Staff would be encouraged to use this area for breaks and outdoor meetings if appropriate. This would support their health and wellbeing, as being in fresh air reduces stress and depression.”
Gorseinon Hospital has a beautiful courtyard, which is also open to patients, visitors and staff.
Hospital assistant manager Christine Pettifer said: “The raised beds are held together with wooden stakes, which are rotting.
“As these disintegrate, it will make it impossible for patients to use this area, as it will become unsafe.
“We try our best to keep it looking tidy and presentable for our patients but it has become overgrown and looks very unsightly.”
Pictured right at Gorseinon Hospital’s garden are Sarah Taylor, lead nurse for community hospitals; Debra McNeil, Gorseinon unit manager; Christine Pettifer, assistant site manager; Sharon Bessant, junior sister, Gorseinon; Mark Humphreys, assistant technical service officer.
Staff have bought bedding plants to place around the area to make it more colourful. Last year they started a gardening club encouraging patients to get out and plant some of the bedding themselves.
“This was very well received and made the national news. We would like to be able to do more of this,” said Christine.
Taking pride of place at the front of the hospital is a memorial bench which was donated by Swansea City Council.
Christine added: “The bench is situated in front of the hospital and we would like some raised beds around it so we can plant poppies, daffodils and other flowers that would help to show our appreciation of the sacrifice made by others on our behalf.”
Keep Wales Tidy and the health board will be setting up a stand in the Morriston Hospital main entrance promoting the project and giving information on how to vote for it on Friday April 5th from 9am-3pm.
Des Keighan, health board Assistant Director of Operations for Estates, said: “The objective of the Big Lottery Fund People’s Project is to transform our green space to help patients, staff and visitors to relax and interact with an emphasis on their wellbeing.
“If successful this would provide a tranquil place for patients, staff and visitors to carry out activities such as gardening, or just to sit and enjoy the environment whilst socialising with others.”